Both Barrels May 2024 - Hawke's Bay

  • Hawke's Bay
  • 23/05/2024

Both Barrels May 2024 - Hawke's Bay

Challenging Openening Weekend

Opening weekend dawned with clear blue skies and calm weather across all our region, making for challenging hunting and the need for sunblock rather than wet weather gear.

Some shooters enjoyed great success with full bags of both Mallards and Paradise ducks reported, whilst others had lesser bags but accepted the conditions had a big part to play in their relative success.

Many shooters we spoke to reminded us that the success of opening weekend isn’t just about shooting lots of ducks. To quote some - Opening day to us is like Christmas for kids; we wait for it for all year. It’s about catching up with our mates, many we only see at opening weekend. Its my annual excuse to escape the city, chores at home and be  young at heart again.

Many shooters had large numbers of birds on their ponds and lakes when they arrived in the morning; with some being more successful than others getting them back later in the day.

Some hunters staff have spoken to, commented on how far away they ( and no doubt the ducks ) could hear shots on opening morning suggesting the ducks could hear where the danger was and avoid it, with several shooters noting they saw large numbers of birds congregating  on dams that weren’t being shot.


Keep the ducks moving

One of the keys to good duck hunting is being able to keep the ducks moving. Those that go stalking other farm dams or the river in quiet parts of the day, whilst the rest of the team stay at the hide, often generate success for themselves and their mates back in the hide.      

With the dry weather continuing through the first few weeks of the season, stalking ponds and rivers has been successful. We all eagerly await some significant rain to get the ducks moving, with many opportunities created as they go foraging for worms disturbed by the rain.


High levels of compliance

Our ranging teams accompanied by rural police officers were out and about, making many contacts with hunters, it was great to see all shooters encountered being pleasant and cooperative with only a few minor indiscretions being picked up. We are confident that we will continue to encounter high levels of compliance when we are out ranging with the rural police team through the rest of the season.

With many shooters chasing geese and enjoying shooting rabbits and hares with friends and family pre – season, it easy to get caught out. As waterfowl shooters we need to check we haven’t inadvertently left some lead ammo in our bag or belt, and we have replaced the pin in our guns.

With many farmers planting Maize post cyclone there are many areas still being harvested and the ducks, particularly Paradise ducks will continue flocking into these fields.

Waterfowl hunters with layout blinds shooting these areas should continue to enjoy good shooting.


Many access points repaired

Hawke's Bay rivers will continue to provide some good shooting throughout the season with many access points having been repaired since last year’s cyclone damage, but you’ll need to do some scouting beforehand as some areas have changed.

Despite feeding in harvested maize fields, ducks will still congregate in backwater pools along the river.

Those waterfowl hunters who spend time identifying these sites or stalk the rivers should have a good shooting.

River shooting provides some great opportunities and there is always a good chance of encountering Pheasants or Quail; a wonderful addition to any hunters menu.

With more staff out ranging and doing field work recently, we have seen good numbers of ducks on some of our rivers and pheasants on river margins.

As the season progresses those that put in the effort in the field and continue to feed should enjoy good success. 


Central Hawkes Bay Juniors shoot

Our local staff accompanied our CEO Corina Jordan and Richard Cosgrove to a Central Hawkes Bay Juniors shoot the 18th of May, where approximately 30 junior duck hunters are invited to shoot on the 3rd weekend of the season.

This wonderful property shows how the investment in duck habitat has helped both shooters and the environment, this particular event works well where they have set aside a weekend of the season just for their junior shooters and invited guests to be mentored and shoot on some of the wonderful wetlands the property holds. Several of these wetlands have created with collaboration from Fish and Game and as a joint venture with The Game Bird Habitat Trust.



For the hunter who likes a challenge, there is an abundance of Pūkeko throughout the region with many landowners happy to have the numbers knocked back. Hunters are reminded to seek permission, accept you may not always be granted access and who knows what opportunities may unfold, while remembering that we are all ambassadors for our recreation.

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